In a study published December 26 in the Journal of Clinical Medicine, researchers tested the effects of cathodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) in the occipital cortex of 42 patients with episodic migraine.

They determined that tDCS applied to this region of the brain is an effective and well tolerated alternative to medicinal treatments usually prescribed to patients with episodic migraine.

The randomized, double blind, sham-controlled study constituted of 3 consecutive daily sessions of tDCS in patients following a screening visit and a 7-day preintervention period.  After the 3-day intervention period, researchers followed up with patients after 14 days. In addition, a “washout period” of 1 week was included between arms of the study. Patients and investigators analyzing the data were both blinded to the assigned arm of each test period.

The study yielded the following results:

  • Reduced number of migraine days (with respect to the primary end point) at week 1 (1.60 [0.23]; <.001) and week 2 (1.50 [0.26]); <.001)
  • A significant decrease in visual analogue scale scores (to measure intensity of migraine attacks) at week 1 (1.17 [0.17]; P <.001) and week 2 (1.01 [0.19]; P <.001)
  • A reduction in tablet consumption at week 1 (0.30 [0.06]; P <.001) and week 2 (0.22 [0.08]; P = .002)
  • A significant increase in the number of headache-free days at week 1 (0.62 [0.11]; P <.001) but not at week 2 (0.45 [0.14];= .006)
  • No significant changes were observed following the sham block

Patients were required to keep a diary throughout the entire process, including the sham and intervention periods. The mean age of the sample was 36.5 years while the mean age of onset of episodic migraine was 23.7 years. Most of the patients included in the study were female, and only 3 patients reported they did not receive any sort of regular treatment for migraine prior to the study.

With results showing “a reduction in the number of migraine days (1.6 fewer migraine days per week) and migraine intensity, and a parallel reduction in tablets consumption,” researchers are hopeful this treatment will be a viable option for patients in the future.

Read more here.

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